Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Computer Classes at the Library

BHPL is offering computer classes at the library. Introduction to library computers will be offered on Thursday, October 26 from 10:00 am to 11:30 am and the same class will be repeated on Wednesday, November 1 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. The class will give a tour of the library's computer system, from the OPAC's (online catalog) to the internet terminals. The library has online databases of newspapaers, magazines, downloadable audiobooks and music, research databases in all subject areas, from investing to medicine, history, science, literature and more, which will be demonstrated. Come see what's new in the 21st century library. Free, but pre-registration is required.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Herbal Medicine

The National Geographic Desk Reference to Nature's Medicine is the latest herbal acquired by BHPL's Reference Department. Another resource the reference librarians use to answer questions about medicinal herbs and alternative medicine is Memorial Sloan-Kettering's website - About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products. The site is maintained for doctors but has consumer versions of many articles like this one on vitamin C. The database is searchable by name of herb or product, has links to PubMed and JAMA articles, and the articles can be emailed or printed in a printer-friendly format. There are also links to current issues in the news about herbals, such as this one on the use of peroxide as medicine.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Oriana Fallaci

Famed, or rather, infamous, Italian journalist and author Oriana Fallaci died September 16. This obituary in the International Guardian gives a good sense of the radical and even bigoted side of the feisty Fallaci. There has been very little in the news here about her even though she was a fascinating and to many, an infuriating, figure in political journalism. This article in The Jerusalem Post describes her as a "small, but fearless Italian journalist and author. " Going on to say, "The image of her with dark sunglasses on, cigarette in hand, churning out endless smoke and declaiming true and politically incorrect words would defy time and be with us forever." Her recent books, the Rage and the Pride and it's follow-up, the Force of Reason, were extreme in their criticism of Islam which brought her death threats and more notoriety. Jon Friedman of MarketWatch reviews her life in his article today. On the theory that even a stopped clock is right twice a day, Fallaci's works are interesting most of the time, rarely dull, and as for "right", that's up to you. Here is an excerpt from the Guardian article which quotes her interview with Henry Kissinger in 1972, "when she described him thus: "This too famous, too important, too lucky man, whom they call Superman, Superstar, Superkraut ... this incredible, inexplicable, unbearable personage." He later called the interview, where he characterised himself as a lone cowboy riding on a horse into town, "the most disastrous I ever had with any member of the press".

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Reading in England

Or - what I read before, during and after a recent trip to the University of Bath in England. Leaving the U.S. behind, I finished Pawley’s Island: a low country tale by Dorothea Benton Frank, a comforting “woman’s book” about a bereaved lawyer who takes refuge on the South Carolina island to escape the tragic memories of her life. The book is formulaic but soothing, passing the time agreeably and I don’t think I’m giving anything away to say that it ends happily with all loose ends tied together nicely. The main character in the book is Pawley’s Island itself which comes off as a great place for r&r. If you like this one, try the Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd.

Then, having studied up on my destinations of Wells and Bath, I scanned through Watching the English by Kate Fox and True Brits by J.R. Daeschner to try to get a sense of Englishness. The first, an anthropologist’s field study of her countrymen gives insight into important cultural traditions such as talking about the weather, being polite, being reserved, pub talk, being self-deprecating and, most of all, being very funny - funnier than people from any other country on earth she says in a rare unbiased moment. True Brit describes events which reinforce the stereotype of the British tolerance or even love for eccentrics. For example the annual cheese rolling event in Cheddar Gorge which was banned at one point because of the dangers inherent in hurling oneself down a very steep, rocky hillside in pursuit of a hurtling wheel of cheddar cheese.
Next, I reread the appropriate portions of ex-patriot (American author) Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island. I recommend the whole book and all his others too, if you like humor. While I was there, the Guardian ran an excerpt from Bryson’s new book, the Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, a memoir. Bryson has lived and worked as a journalist in the UK for over twenty years and seems to be popular over there judging by the piece in the Guardian. His description of growing up in the 1950’s in the American Midwest must seem like a window into American culture for non-Americans.
Then I bought a book by my favorite Scottish author even though reading about the Celts to the north wasn’t strictly on the syllabus. Alexander McCall Smith’s Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, the second in his Sunday Philosophy Club series featuring the fictional ethicist Isabel Dalhousie of the University of Edinburgh (not fictional of course.) The mystery for Isabel this time was to find out if the recipient of a new heart was experiencing “cellular memory” when he repeatdly dreamed of a menacing face which he felt might have been involved in the death of his heart donor. Isabel’s woolgathering musings are every bit as entertaining as McCall Smith’s other great female character, Precious Ramotswe of the Number One Ladies Detective Agency series.
Then I read Hotel du Lac by Anita Bruckner which was about an English author who exiles herself to a remote Swiss hotel in the off season to escape a scandal of her own making. What I didn’t do is reread Hardy (of the West Country) who is terrific - if you feel strong enough to read something depressing, like when you are a teenager and like to wallow in that kind of thing, but the countryside, replete with cows, sheep and scudding clouds, seemed like a postcard and not a place where Tess would wander around in a cloud of hopeless yearning. But that’s just my opinion now – I loved Hardy when I was a gloomy teenager.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Books on the Daily Show

BHPL patrons often ask for books they have seen on TV. Here are links to TV shows that feature authors as guests.
Comedy Central's The Daily Show turns serious when Jon Stewart interviews Daily Show guest authors.
The Daily Show's
spinoff with more fake news is the Colbert Report. Here is the link to the authors featured on that show.
Some shows have books clubs like Oprah's Book Club such as -
The Today Show Books
Good Morning America's Read This!
The Early Show Books

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Week in Books

What's new in the book world this week? Dr. Phil's wife, Robin, has a new book out: Inside My Heart: Choosing to Live with Passion and Purpose, (featured on the Women of Faith website.) Since she has access to the power and publicity machine of her husband's show, the demand should be huge, there are already holds on this title at BHPL.
The list of nominees for the British Booker Prize were just announced which are not as well known on this side of the pond, at least not until the awards are announced which usually stirs up more American readers' interest.
USA Today's Carol Memmott reports that Janet Evanovich has a new book out: How I Write: secrets of a bestselling author. Her Stephanie Plum series about the Trenton, NJ bounty hunter are so popular, this will sell by association. Many of her readers write to her for advice about becoming an author and so this book was born. It will probably be fun to read even by people who do not aspire to write.
And finally, our very own ex-governor, James McGreevey's new memoir, the Confession, is out and he will appear on the Oprah show next week. Present NJ governor, Jon Corzine, comments on his predecessor's book and TV appearance in today's Star Ledger: "I think Jim would have served himself a little better just to continue to go on and build his life. I don't know what's in the book, and I'm not particularly interested." Corzine went on to say in yesterday's radio interview, "I think that the stuff that gets off track and into, you know, prurience is not exactly positive for him or even the things he wants to have defended in public life."
What to look for in the near future: take a look at this preview of big name author releases this fall from USA Today's book section. Reporter Jaqueline Blais writes, "There is an impressive array of literary titles from Cormac McCarthy, Alice McDermott, Richard Ford, Charles Frazier and Thomas Pynchon."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Laura Bush's Summer Reading List

This piece on fellow librarian Laura Bush's summer reading turned up in the Daily Tar Heel's Book section which they took from the Washington Post Book World. (And now I'm borrowing it, but always with attribution.) Last year, Mrs. Bush facetiously, "told the White House Correspondents Association dinner: "George and I were just meant to be ... I was the librarian who spent 12 hours a day in the library, yet somehow I met George." Her reading includes Ann Tyler and Alexandre McCall Smith, both gentle humorous observers of the human character.
Mr. Bush's summer reading last year included books that took the UK newspaper, the Guardian by surprise. According to the Guardian article, he lugged around the following titles: "Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky... The other tomes are reported to be Alexander II: the Last Great Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky and The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M Barry."
I think this is the President's 2006 summer reading as provided by the White House Press office. It looks like he read a lot of history, hard-boiled detective stories (John D. MacDonald's Travis Magee series were terrific even though they have fallen out of popularity since MacDonald's death), a book about Fidel Castro, which makes sense of course, and another book on an epidemic, polio this year, last year it was the influenza of 1919.
It's always interesting to find out what other people are reading which is why Amazon has links to related titles based on people's purchasing habits.

Monday, September 11, 2006

September Buzz

Follow this link to our September BHPL Buzz, our library email newsletter, which is also linked to our webpage
This month's book display features books about 9/11. A partial booklist can be seen in the BHPL Buzz.
Take a look at St.Paul Pioneer Press movie critic, Chris Hewitt's article about 9/11 books and movies at this link.
Here is an excerpt from the column:
"9/11-themed books, movies worth checking out

Movie Critic (St. Paul Pioneer Press)
My job required me to see many 9/11-themed movies, but somehow I've also become a voracious consumer of 9/11 nonfiction and fiction. I'm skipping the much-discussed quick responses such as "Fahrenheit 9/11," but here are a batch of recent books and movies worth checking out:
"102 Minutes," by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn: If you're going to read one book about 9/11, this is it. Using interviews with survivors, cell-phone calls from inside the World Trade Center and astonishingly detailed reporting, this heartbreaking, compulsively readable work of nonfiction makes you feel like you are there, awed and inspired by the heroism and sacrifice that occurred between the time when a plane slammed into the first tower and when the last tower fell.
"A Little Love Story," by Roland Merullo: It wouldn't be fair to say how this aptly titled charmer connects to the events of 9/11, but it's not giving away too much to say the novel offers hope by showing how life can go on in the wake of tragedy.
"Between Two Rivers," by Nicholas Rinaldi: The rivers are the Hudson and the East River, which converge near what's now Ground Zero. Rinaldi creates a dozen vivid characters who refer to 9/11 only obliquely but who also live their lives between two metaphoric rivers, as well: the future and the irretrievable past.
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," by Jonathan Safran Foer: Surprisingly witty picaresque story about a guy trying to put together the pieces of his life, with his father's key, retrieved from the World Trade Center wreckage, to guide him.
"The Looming Tower," by Lawrence Wright: What if the CIA and FBI had met, three months prior to the attacks on the World Trade Center, possessing the information needed to stop the attacks but refusing to share it with each other? Well, they did (on June 11, 2001), and Wright's riveting nonfiction account of the rise of al-Qaida argues convincingly that the attacks should have been prevented.
"Triangle," by Katharine Weber: This novel about the last survivor of New York's 1911 Triangle Factory fire does not appear to be about 9/11, but its connections to the World Trade Center go way beyond the coincidental similarity of the dates. In the lyrical final pages, Weber imagines a compelling, oddly hopeful answer to one of the most horrifying questions of that day: How could people bring themselves to jump?

Friday, September 8, 2006

Sisters in Crime-Central New Jersey

This just received in the blogger's mailbox from a New Jersey mystery writers group:


On Saturday, September 23, 2006, award-winning multicultural author Shirley Hailstock will speak with the members of Sisters in Crime-Central Jersey. This best-selling author has revolutionized the publishing industry with her novels of suspense, which include dynamic characters and high speed, intense plotlines. "...her plots...are over the edge of the world" quotes the New York Times.
Suspense and mystery are close cousins in the publishing world and few know the publishing world or how to write edge-of-your-seat suspense like Shirley Hailstock. Every year, the September Sisters in Crime meeting is about honoring the Queen of Mystery, Agatha Christie, and this year is no exception.
Sisters in Crime meet monthly (except in November) at the Jamesburg Senior Center, located at 139 Stevens Avenue, Jamesburg, NJ. The writer’s group will meet at 930, general meeting starts at 1030 and Ms. Hailstock will take the podium at noon, right after coffee break.
Sisters in Crime is a mystery readers and writers organization devoted to the promotion and support of women mystery authors. Both men and women are welcome to attend and join the organization. For more information on Sisters in Crime-CJ, visit the website at

N.L. Quatrano
"Mayhem at Buckelew House"
CRIME SCENE NEW JERSEY:Mysteries by Garden State Authors
Order by mail at